The FTC Mobile Health App Interactive Tool

Privacy and security need to be considered for any app. App developers need to understand their legal obligations. The FTC released an updated Mobile Health App Interactive Tool that allows users to answer the questions to understand which of the federal laws and regulations may apply to the mobile health app.

 

At the end of July 2023 The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the U.S. Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) contacted 130 health systems and telehealth providers by mail to emphasize the potential HIPAA risks of using Meta/Facebook pixel and Google Analytics tracking tools that may be “impermissibly disclosing” protected health information.

 

OCR has addressed the privacy and security risks related to healthcare organizations use third-party tracking tools that can analyze, gather and share sensitive medical data with advertising partners under Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), while the FTC is trying to protect consumers’ health information from “potential misuse and exploitation.”

 

HIPAA Rules apply when the information that a regulated entity collects through tracking technologies or discloses to third parties (e.g., tracking technology vendors) includes Protected Health Information (PHI).

 

But if health information is not protected by the HIPAA Rules, this doesn’t

mean that there are no federally required protections for the information. Other federal laws might apply.

 

The FTC adds a warning about consumer protection laws:

 

“Even if you are not covered by HIPAA, you still have an obligation to protect against impermissible disclosures of personal health information under the FTC Act and the FTC Health Breach Notification Rule.”

 

(source: https://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/ftc-ocr-send-warning-letter-hospitals-about-online-tracking-pixels)

 

Privacy and security need to be considered for any app—and especially apps that collect and share consumers’ health information.

 

App developers need to understand their legal obligations. As mobile health apps are designed, marketed, and distributed, U.S. federal laws may apply.

 

In December 2022 the FTC released an updated Mobile Health App Interactive Tool to help industry members understand what federal laws and regulations might apply to their apps. The tool allows users to answer the questions to understand which of the federal laws and regulations may apply to the mobile health app.

 

(source: https://www.ftc.gov/business-guidance/resources/mobile-health-apps-interactive-tool)

 

The tool should not be considered legal advice and cannot guarantee compliance with legal requirements, but it can help to manage risk.

 

The tool is meant to provide an overview of potential compliance obligations and inform about educational materials and best practices for delivering safe, accurate services while safeguarding the privacy and security of consumer information.

 

(source: https://datamatters.sidley.com/2023/02/07/new-ftc-guidance-for-mobile-health-apps/)

 

Consumers should not have to sacrifice the privacy of their health information when using health apps. When using online tracking technologies companies need to ensure that consumers’ health information are protected.

 

If you have any questions about compliance, just contact us at https://primeauconsultinggroup.com/

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